In an effort to improve the well-being of Oklahoma children, families and our communities, we have to give Oklahoma mothers the support they need — including support for those dealing with mental health and substance abuse. That is why the University of Oklahoma is launching a study of the Parent Child-Assistance Program in partnership with our state’s child welfare and behavioral health agencies and philanthropic organizations concerned about this issue.  

Today, Oklahoma outranks most states with women’s incarceration, substance use disorders, foster care entry rates and adverse childhood experiences. Oklahoma is the No. 1 incarcerator of women, and the majority of those incarcerations are drug related.  

While motherhood is stressful under normal circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on mothers, causing major spikes in anxiety and depression. The most recent research shows 1 in 3 mothers who had babies at the beginning of the pandemic experienced postpartum depression, potentially triple pre-pandemic levels, and 1 in 5 had major symptoms of depression. Over the last several years, the world watched as mothers became stay-at-home parents, work-from-home employees and teachers/tech support for their children. This extra stress, anxiety and isolation all led to increased burnout, and today, mothers are experiencing depression and anxiety at a much higher level than before the pandemic.